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Good-bye to a Star in my life

This pass month a couple celebrities who have been part of our lives for my entire lifetime have passed away. We love them for their work and feel like we know them because they are on our t.v.s and in our homes. They have made us laugh and cry. Sometimes we wonder how they could have said that—not mincing words or just being mean. Famous as they were they get a lot of t.v press and are memorialized before us for days.
This got me to thinking about the people in my life who were not popular enough to get that sort of send off. It made me think about how they made a difference in my personal life far more than a popular comedian or entertainer. And while I will not deny that I will miss my favorite Mork from Ork, the laughs I received from an entertainer are nowhere as important to me as the love of a Grandparent, friend, or confidant.
One such person, my maternal grandmother passed away more than 10 years ago. She was a shining light in my youth. She taught me so many things. She was witty and hard working. She liked to sew and made me many dresses when I was young. After my parents divorced, my Mom, brother, and I lived with her for a few years. She would cook for us and take us to school, make sure our homework was done, and play games with us. My prize possession to this day is the backgammon board set that she bought me for Christmas one year. It always reminds me of her when I play it.
Here are some of my memories and experiences:
She wanted to learn Spanish and so she would listen to Spanish tapes in her car. I would attempt to learn some words with her as she drove me to school. Since Abuela is the Spanish word for Grandmother, I started calling her that. One day she said, “Sandi, if you are not going to learn the language and speak it, stop calling me Abuela, you look stupid. And so I learn, never do things half way.
My Grandmother loved to garden. She had a big garden in the backyard. It has snails that would eat the leaves on her plants. So my Grandmother said that she would pay us a penny a snail. Such a deal-it was the late 70s and a penny still had a little value. So my brother and I picked lots and lots of snails. She paid us from time to time as we filled our bags. One time I had a few snails (I don’t remember how many but probably 10 or so) I wanted my money. I kept badgering her for the few cents. She finally paid and then told me the job was done. I was fired. I learned patience and timing are good things.
My Grandmother also taught me that you can say almost anything you want if you say it correctly but using words incorrectly can get you in a lot of trouble. My Dad had bought my brother and I a big box of fireworks. Something my Mother would never waste her money on—she was a single mom and let’s face it there were free shows put on by the city. So the fireworks were put up with the promise that we would shoot them off on the 4th. I really don’t remember shooting them off but what I do remember was asking Grandma for the sparklers earlier that day. She said she had looked in the box and there weren’t any. I said, Grandma I know we bought them. They are in the box you didn’t see them. She said are you calling me a liar. I said, Yes. The next thing I knew I was picking myself up from across the room. Then she said, Do you still think I am a liar. I said NO but I think you might be mistaken. I was never good at backing down. She smiled and said we would take another look. We did and the sparklers were in the box. I just took them and left. I learn that you can be correct and still not get the results you want.
I remember the gas embargo and Grandma parking in line to get gas after she sent us to make sure the flag at the station was truly green.
I remember playing cards and backgammon every night after dinner was over and dishes were washed while the tv played the Jokers Wild or Wheel of Fortune. To this day I still love tv game shows and cards, perhaps this is why.
So many other memories of a woman who lost her Mother (she died of a stroke) when she was only 5 years old and was shipped off to her Aunts home in Nebraska to be raised. In the 1920s men just didn’t raise girls without a woman in the home or so I am told. After my parent’s divorce, she helped with many of the daily parenting chores for a time. She was always my cheerleader in my adventures as I grew into adulthood. After attending my first year of college, she suffered a stroke. My Grandmother survived for another 16 years in a wheelchair. I visited with her on the phone and in person. She was able to see all my children before she passed. She is most likely the reason I have always had a soft spot in my heart for children, for my desire to become a foster parent years ago and to always try to help children who are less fortunate. I would like to hope that she is proud of me as she looks down from heaven.
I am grateful I got to know this amazing woman. She passed away in 2003. We had a funeral and many came to pay respects. As I sit and listen to the news talk about the stars that we have lost I think about the star I lost more than a decade ago who embedded into my heart and mind—honestly, integrity, hard work, patience, and love.
I would challenge everyone who reads this to think of a true star in your life and write a memory, tribute of them such as this.

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